When I was a youngster and was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I gave the typical answers of a child too young for the 1960s to have an effect yet unknowing of what the future would bring. After graduating high school and going to college down one road, I was greeted with many forks in that road and ended up programming computers. In those days, it was the beginning of the explosive growth of an industry that set the stage to the Internet revolution. While it has been a fun ride, there are times when I had not travelled so far down this road. This may be one of those times.
The Smithsonian Institution, the museum and research facility founded on the bequeath by James Smithson following his death in 1829, has a job opening for curator of the National Numismatic Collection at the National Museum of American History. According to the job post, the person hired for this job will carry “out the research, collections management, exhibitions development and education mission of the museum.”
What a fantastic opportunity for someone who has an interest in numismatics and history as researched through numismatics. As part of the job, you could potentially handle some of the most priceless coins in history including the 1933 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, 1804 silver dollar, and even the Series 1934 $100,000 gold certificate—though not a coin a very significant artifact of U.S. history. The Smithsonian has coins from the Byzantine Empire, the coinage of Spain that played a role in the early economic history of the United States, and gold rush coins.
The job is with the federal government and paid on the general schedule (GS) at grades 12 or 13, depending on previous experience. GS-12 ranges from $74,872 to $97,333 per year including the adjustment for locality pay. If you are hired as a GS-13, the range is from $89,033 to $115,742. As a Fed, you will be eligible for one of the best benefits packages available to all government workers, even members of congress. There is a competition for various insurance programs, the Thrift Savings Plan is a protected retirement plan for government workers, leadership training, and other programs that keeps good people working for the federal government. You can read more about working for the federal government at the website for the Office of Personnel Management.
If you are selected for the job, you would be working in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall where the Smithsonian museums are located. Within the same area are nearly all of the government agencies, monuments, memorials, the capital and the White House. Even for those of us who live here it is cool being able to pass by the U.S. Capital building and the White House on a regular basis.
The downside is that the job is in Washington, D.C., regularly rated as having the worst traffic problems after the Los Angeles area. Although the recession has lowered housing prices, they remain high since the presence of the federal government has kept unemployment low in this area. Good housing can be found in desirable areas of the region including further away from the District with access to mass transportation so you can commute downtown.
If this job was available 15 years ago, I would have applied. The job may will probably not be like Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian but it looks like a fantastic opportunity. I hope that someone with a love for numismatics is able to land this job.